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Jafunkae: Rock 'N Funk 'N Soul
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
Jafunkae seem to know a bit about music. The Fort Wayne-based band of young dudes have come straight out of high school and are taking their love of classic rock, 60s soul, and a bit of island sway and blending it with some modern touches to give our ears a unique kind of feel good music.
Here's how lead guitarist Patrick Mathews put it regarding the band, "Jafunkae consists of Dave Ealy as the vocalist, me on lead guitar, Daniel Gomez on bass, Peter Klopfenstein on keys and William Heingartner on drums. Will, Daniel, Dave and I all met at South Side High School. Myself, Daniel and Will all played in jazz band together and used to hang out in the studio and jam everyday and then decided to ask Dave if he would be interested in singing for us, as he was very well known for his fantastic singing in choir. We later added Peter on keys to add more to the sound."
Dave Ealy's voice is something to behold. Seasoned way beyond his 18 years, he sounds like a cross between Cage The Elephant's Matthew Shultz and Sublime's Bradley Nowell mixed with some true grit soul. That aged voice blends well with the rest of the band's tight rhythm section and top notch guitar playing. But according to the band their influences are all over the place. "I have always came from a classic rock and blues background," says Mathew. "Taking heavy influences from Led Zeppelin. That's what got me, Will and Daniel jamming in the first place." Ealy pulls from a different music source for his inspiration, saying "My personal preference was R&B but the groove and rhythm the original Jafunkae had drew me to the band." Drummer Will Heingartner is a bit more diplomatic about the band's musical influences, "Our music takes root from classic rock, jazz, funk, blues, psychedelic and soul."
The songwriting process is an important one in any band, and Patrick explains how this process works in Jafunkae. "For the most part, especially in the beginning, I did most of the songwriting," says Mathews. " I would write the lyrics, changes, and melody. But now me and Dave are working on co-writing more as it brings a little bit more to each song. ‘One More Time’ is an example of that collaboration. I'll normally work the song out with Dave first, then show it to the rest of the band and see how they dig it. I don't believe in a songwriting ‘template.’ Each song I write develops in a different way. It's not really a ‘process.’ It happens more organically and I can't always predict when inspiration will hit. Sometimes I come up with the groove first or the initial chord changes, but sometimes I'll base it off lyrics I've already written."
The band have put out a great EP, a mix of everything under the sun, with their own personal twist. When I heard where they recorded the EP I wasn't surprised. "We recorded at Off The Cuff Sound here in Fort Wayne," says Mathews. "It's a super hip place run by Jason Davis with a lot of vintage gear and analog tape machines. Jason recorded us and mixed it there. Then we sent in to The Boiler Room in Chicago to be mastered. We were very happy with the recording. It felt like a very authentic recording experience."
With a new EP under their belt and some tunes to play the next step in the process is taking the music to folks. That means hitting local stages, and Jafunkae are doing just that. "We've played our fair share of live shows throughout the area", states Patrick. "Anywhere from small venues like The Friendly Fox, to larger music halls like C2G. Our favorite show would probably be the night we released our EP at C2G Music Hall. It was a very exciting night with a great turnout and we had other great local bands to share the bill with. "
Are the guys making time to write new material for a full-length? According to Mathews that answer is yes. "We are always working on new music. We like to push our boundaries when it comes to what we can do. Our latest song doesn't even have a name yet. We literally wrote it the Thursday before Record Store Day, which we then played that Saturday at the Wooden Nickel." And I'd wondered how the guys get along with other bands in the Fort Wayne music scene. They seem to really connect with other younger bands just getting started. According to Mathews, "There's a lot of cool stuff happening right now with local teen bands through Sweetwater. They really do a great job bringing kids together to play music. Thanks to them we get to play a lot of shows with bands our own age at a fairly even level. Our admiration is for the young groups with dreams like ours."
So what's next for the guys in Jafunkae? Patrick Mathews sounds hopeful for the future of his band. "We plan on going back to studio as soon as we can to record a full length album. We have some good shows lined up this summer like Rock the Plaza Aug. 22 and are currently booking some shows out of town along with local ones."
Make sure to check out Jafunkae at Rock The Plaza on August 22nd. You can keep up with all things Jafunkae on their Facebook page.